From the Forum – Cutting the cable cord, looking for advice

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Cutting the cable cord, looking for advice:

“RCN has informed me that my cable bill will be going up another $20 (so for internet/cable bundle it’s up to $180, that’s obnoxious!). I just have 1 tier over basic, no premium channels. Not a movie watcher but a Caps and NE Patriots fan. I have an old TIVO (III) and an LED tv but not a smart tv so would need something to push internet to TV and then possibly get an antenna? I see FIOS is actually available in my building so that’s an option. What do others use/recommend?

Thanks for your help”

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58 Comment

  • Pit RCN against FIOS. Tell RCN that FIOS has offered you ______, that will you do to keep me. Tell Fios that you pay _____ for RCN, what offers do they have.

  • You have options. Call up RCN and tell them you’re cancelling service because you can get better service at half the cost from another vendor. They’ll give you the run around for a bit but if you keep at it you’ll get a discount. If not – sign up for FIOS. You can get better service for half the cost of what you’re paying now.

    • That’s what I did with Comcast. Got my bill down from almost $200/month to $50.
      In my experience FiOS is terrible. Very unreliable service and the techs aren’t helpful at all.

      • A little late to the game, but what’s crucial here, esp with RCN, is to actually cancel (set the date ~2 weeks out). The people on the phone when you call to cancel don’t have the authority to give you the intro deals that they give to new customers, but the people that call back a few days later from the retention department DO even if they tell you it’s not an option at the first call.

        I’ve kept my cable/internet bill at $69.99 before taxes/modem/TiVo fees doing this (total is $89.99 before tax), and last week my internet speed more than doubled at the same time.

  • Smart TVs are cheap now, you would recap your investment in 2-3 months unless your TV is absolutely huge. We got a SONY digital converter box that lets you play Hulu and Netflix…doesn’t compare to the variety of cable but also $150 cheaper per month.

    • That’s what we did – we got a great smart TV and just pay for internet. We have the hulu, netflix, and amazon apps and got a chromecast for HBO GO (which you’ll be able to buy a subscription to on its own soon enough). No showtime on smart TV though, which sucks but soon enough, I’m sure.We don’t miss live TV – I guess I miss binge watching HGTV when nothing else is on, but not enough to justify the cost.

      • the showtime app was updated and is now compatible with chromecast, and netflix recently added a huge suite of HGTV shows

        • Netflix added old shows – part of my HGTV deal was just turning it on and then getting hooked for hours. And showtime? AWESOME will have to check it out!

          • i think you can stream shows from HGTV’s website. i’m glad binge watching HGTV is a thing for other people too 🙂

    • You don’t need to upgrade your TV – just get a wireless bluray player that does the the same thing. We have a new Sony one for ~$90 and it works well. Includes at least hulu, netflix, and amazon (chromecast doesn’t have amazon but does have HBO). None of the options have PBS, but you can get an antenna for that — just a pain if you don’t want to watch live.

  • I pay about $50/month for Comcast internet only and have an antenna for live HDTV service and an Apple TV for streaming Hulu, Netflix, etc. That may not work for you for Caps games though; there is a NHL app for the Apple TV but it may have restrictions on local games that are otherwise on another channel.

    • NHL blacks out in-market games. So unless the Caps are the NBC game which you can get over the air, you’re SOL.

    • The NHL app costs close to $200 for the season, and you won’t be able to get the Caps games.

      • I forgot to mention in my post, it also blocks out nearly ever “national” game, including those on NHL Network. I’m also pretty sure that means absolutely no playoff games are available via the app after the first round, and even the first round offerings are extremely limited.

        For the devout local sports fan, it’s darn near impossible to not have cable and still be able to watch every (or almost every) game. I have cable almost exclusively to watch Caps and Nats and whatever other assorted games I can find.

  • You might want to look into a ChromeCast. I just recently got one, and I’m not totally sure where you could stream sports games from (though, as a Women’s soccer fan, if I can find games on the internet to stream, you should definitely be able to find Caps and Pats games somewhere) but I love the Chromecast. It plugs right into the TV and you just download an extension app to your Chrome (assuming you use that and not Internet Explorer or Firefox) and it kicks everything right to your TV. You can also cast from your phone, and you can do other things in the meantime. It’s awesome. I just kicked Comcast cable to the curb in favor of this.

    • +1 I have chromecast and love it. You can stream Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go, and really anything on the browser if you don’t mind some lag. The ESPN app is now able to stream on chromecast so you could try that.

    • Tsar of Truxton

      I have a Chromecast that I don’t use much anymore because I have an Xbox One, but if looking at buying one, you should def. consider an Amazon Firestick as well. I haven’t used one, but it seems like an updated version of a Chromecast. To me, the Chromecast was a solid product for the money, but the video quality wasn’t great (but maybe it has improved).

      For the sports, you can use a proxy to “change” your location to get around the blackouts on MLB/NHL apps. If your building does not get DirecTV (sounds like it doesn’t), you can also get an online version of NFL Sunday Ticket (but it is pricey) for the Pats games.

  • Dish will soon be offering a tv service called Sling. It’s an internet tv service, which will offer some live tv channels including espn, espn2, hgtv, food network, tnt, tbs, etc. for $20/month, no contract necessary. Rumored to be released in the coming weeks, I’ll most likely be cutting the cord when this launches.

    More info here:

  • Chromecast. Hulu. Basic Internet. I cut the cable several months ago and couldn’t be happier. The only downside is having to go elsewhere to watch sporting events.

  • Are there any option for wannabe cable cutters who want to watch the Nats using legal means?

  • I have a Roku and love it. It has a variety of channels and it is always getting more. Some you have to pay to get, but others like Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon, Hulu and others are free. If you want to watch MLB games, you can get their package and watch games through that. Look into the various pricing of things and figure out what is best for you.

    • HBO Go is not free. You have to already pay for a cable subscription with HBO for access to Go. Are you “borrowing” somebody else’s login/password to get HBO Go for free?

    • To be clear, the apps for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. are free, the service is not. Some of the apps allow you to stream from your own computer (e.g. PLEX). Apps that do not come with a service fee tend not to be free, but typically only cost a couple bucks. I have a Roku and I love it. Would definitely recommend.

    • I never said HBO Go itself was free. Those particular apps are free, however, you have to pay for the service. I find the Roku worth it. They now have a streaming stick instead of the box if that is what you would like.

      I don’t get HBO Go for free. Never said that either. I am not getting anything for free for HBO. I pay.

      • “Some you have to pay to get, but others like Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon, Hulu and others are free.”
        Not sure what you thought you were writing, but that sentence really sounds like you’re saying that others like Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon, Hulu and others are free.

  • I have a Roku that uses my Wifi for Netflix, Huku, etc. and a cheap antenna that I bought from Amazon. The picture qualify with the antenna is normally quite great. I’m a huge college basketball fan, so for that my lovely friend gave me his cable provider login, and I added the ESPN app on Roku and watch all the games I want. I cut my cable cord more than two years ago! Not sure if that will work for your needs, but it’s great!

  • For smarttv/roku users — how is everyone getting HGO Go for free? Is someone sharing password or is there another way? Amazon Prime offers some HBO content, but not much current.

    I won’t narc you out . . . I’m just asking for a friend

    • I haven’t looked into that, didn’t realize folks were getting for free. Then again I haven’t watched much HBO so I haven’t seeked it out.

    • The only way to get HBO Go for free is to use someone’s account who pays for the service/cable subscription. HBO will soon provide a standalone subscription to HBO Go so you’ll be able to pay for it without having to pay for all the other cable junk.

    • I don’t HBO for free. I wish. I pay for it. I know of others who freely give out their HBO Go information, which in turn could hurt everyone when HBO finally sees how much more money they could get by limited it to the number of devices it is hooked up to.

    • I do, but my parents don’t use HBO Go ever, so even if they limited devices, we only use it on one device. Once it’s stand alone, we’ll get it. It’s the same price we paid when we had Comcast – never paid for HBO.

  • We cut the chord when we moved into a new house 6 months ago and I have survived without local sports. The downsides to cutting the chord are:

    1) Relying heavily on internet service, which can be unreliable at times
    2) There is no legal way to watch local sports
    3) Network TV antennas are spotty and can be unreliable (however, I was able to watch all NFL games except for NFL network games).

    I’d recommend trying it out. Before you spend all that money on a smart TV, try a roku box.

    • Google Chromecast is even cheaper than a Roku, and it lets you mirror/stream your laptop screen wirelessly to your tv.

  • -Depending on where in DC you’re located but If you have roof access you can get 30-50 channels with a good antenna. the RCA 751 antenna is fairly cheap and works very well. I’m pulling in Baltimore stations regularly with it. Window or set-top antennas are mediocre but will probably get you a few channels. For a media internet box for TV there’s different options depending on what your needs are. If all of your content is in iTunes you can get an AppleTV, but they’re kinda limiting. If you want an easy-to-use set-top box for Netflix & Hulu that you can stream content from your PC, go with the Roku3 + Plex or the Amazon Fire and load Android apps (and possibly also XBMC/Kodi). If you’re a tinkerer and like to play around with tech, get the Matricom GBox (Android) and load XBMX/Kodi on it- in the XBMC apps there’s a lot of options for content. I have not found a good solution for sports.

  • I prefer roku/not smart tv to a smart tv, but that’s just me. Smaller/easier device to upgrade if needed & roku gets updated whenever the update is ready to be pushed to devices. It works out really well.

    As for watching sports – get nhl network for hockey (and mlb network for baseball if you’re interested). There are local blackouts, but check out unblockus to help with those.

  • Get a leaf antenna — $45. cut the cord! there’s loads of advice on the internet about how to do this.

  • I have a triple play from verizon that includes direct tv with HBO, dsl, and land line for $190. I also have Roku for netflix etc. In the past year or so the steeaming quality has gotten so bad that we are considering fios.
    We received a mailer from fios a week ago: $80 for the triple play for 2 years that would include all of the movie channels: HBO cinemax showtime starz et al. Its like 50 premium channels free for 2 years.

    • We just switched to FIOS, don’t be fooled. That $80/month is for the channels. There are add on charges per TV, a charge for the modem/router, a charge for the box per tv, etc…By the end all the add on charges added up to $160 per month anyway for one TV with a box and a modem/router. I like FIOS very much so far, but it really isn’t any cheaper. I also got the 2 year contract. Only real bonus is the $400 giftcard you get for signing up.

  • I like the ChannelMaster DVT+ –
    along with the Flatwave antenna –
    With these two products you can get great over the air reception, a built in channel guide and no monthly fees. DC has close to 50 TV stations.
    If you add a Roku or Apple TV or a similar product and Netflix or Hulu Plus, you will have plenty to watch.

  • goaldigger

    Thanks all for weighing in. Lots of info also coming out of 2015 CES convention (like the Sling TV) so lots to ponder before I pull the trigger (probably won’t be until after the Super Bowl, Go Pats! ;-p).

    • The rest of the NFL playoff games will be on FOX, CBS, or NBC — all channels that you can pull for free in HD with a $10 antenna from Radio Shack or Best Buy.

  • I wouldn’t get a smart tv, I’ve got one. The only thing they’re good for are the built on apps but now you have a variety of dongles to choose from that provide the same apps for a more affordable price. Or as long as your pc is compatible to your new tv just pull everything straight from the net, (netflix,hulu, amazon, espngo).

    Concerning the HBO app I think most people are meaning to say the app it self is free but you still need a personal subscription to access content legally.

  • if you have out of town sports loyalties you’ll do better with the league apps (MLBTV, NHL Center Ice, etc) than if you root for hometown due to black out rules. As long as Washington Football Team continues to “sell out” FedEx the local NFL games are shown over air in DMV so antenna solves that. there is a Tivo product that allows you to record over air broadcasts — it requires a subscription (~$10/mo), but watching just requires antenna. NFL Sunday Ticket released a streaming service for 2014 for limited markets (not DC) and should expand nationally within the next few seasons. ESPN requires cable, although Comcast provides ESPN3 to internet subscribers (it’s gotten more limited in the past 2 years than it was initially)

  • Or the simplest option, comcast just debuted their next X1 dvr boxes and I pay 94.99 a month inclusive for internet and tv w/ hd-dvr and basic plus hbo. I love the caps and wiz so had to have them and you can only get access on cable or via the NBC Sports Extra app if you have a comcast account (note if you do get comcast and you travel, you still get those games on the app, which was perfect for me as a consultant). I’ve tried to dance around it, but you can’t get local sports without cable, it’s honestly the only thing I watch anymore on tv.

  • rhc

    I had a similar situation – the RCN bill climbed to an uncomfortable level (in year 3 of service). We reluctantly decided to switch to Comcast because we got the better deal with them ,and we kept some cable service because we couldn’t part with ESPN. In relation to your situation, we also have a Tivo which we wanted to keep, along with a not-smart but great old hand-me-down plasma TV. Our problem was trying to find a way to watch Amazon Prime and have access to HBO GO on a regular TV. Regular Amazon streaming can be watched on Tivo, but Prime cannot. While various devices can play these things, the only set-top device that Comcast allowed HBO GO on was the X-box. We ended up buying a refurbished X-box 360 because that also can play Amazon Prime. We got rid of the cable for another TV and are just using an inexpensive digital antenna and it works really well here in Petworth. BTW, I was really happy with RCN – never had any problems with them but saved around $90/month with the new configuration. Also BTW, I had no trouble with Comcast regarding the cablecard set-up for the Tivo.

  • Slightly off topic, but you might be able to save money on the TiVo. I called to cancel service to my 3rd gen TiVo when we switched to fios. TiVo offered me lifetime service for that box for $100.

  • I am not a TV expert. I do not watch many sports (except anything soccer, cycling). And, well, we have FiOS. It’s fast, mostly reliable. And for the most part, we use if for the internet (netflix and hulu). FiOS has, in my not expert opinion, the worst menu interface imaginable. It’s extremely cumbersome to search, scroll, or just about anything. I hate it. But I also hated DirectTV. And I hated (but slightly less) Dish network’s when I experienced them in the past. The thing is, I don’t really understand (rhetorically speaking) how I am to get internet TV–cable or no cable–without buying internet service of some kind, so we have FiOS (the trio of phone, TV and internet is $10 more than internet alone, surprise surprise). We also have AppleTV, which has such a pleasant user interface that I can’t imagine what Verizon FiOS equipment makers are smoking (they need to try the weed from Cupertino). Anyway, AppleTV is pretty sweet for internet content, given our pre-smart TV TV. I’ve read that ChromeCast and Roku and Amazon’s products are similar. But I’m not an expert.

  • I cut the cord a year ago and don’t regret it.

    Check for what stations you can get. Im in Logan Circle and get ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, WB, PBS, and a lot of Spanish stations.

    Check out TabloTV. You can hook an antenna up to it along with a hard drive and you have a DVR for your over the air stations. i’ve had Tablo for the past year and love it!

    Cut the cord & save the money!

  • Switch from TV to music. It helps you not get glued to the couch. You can go about your normal life without being stuck in one place in the house.

    Haven’t had cable in 5 years. Go to friends’ houses or bars for sports.

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